‘The Gift of Reading’

Written by admin, December 9, 2013

December 9, 2013 – Include Books on Your Holiday Shopping List to Boost Children’s Speech and Language Skills

Local residents can turn a page on the usual holiday gift-giving ideas by including the printed word for children on their shopping lists.

Reading books that are interesting, engaging and age-appropriate can be a great way for adults and children to spend quality time together. Reading helps to improve children’s speech and language skills, according to Peterborough Public Health.

“Books are a great stocking stuffer or gift item to put under the tree,” says Leisa Baker, a Public Health Nurse with Public Health. “For a low-tech item, books can be high-impact when it comes to improving children’s communication skills and nurturing their love of reading.”

In Ontario, it is estimated one in ten preschool children has a communication delay. Reading with a child can head off potential problems, since it stimulates speech and language development as adults share new words and meanings. This, she notes, provides an essential building block for success in school.

Baker’s advice for wrapping up the ideal book for the holiday season is simple: “Be sure it is age-appropriate, and something that your child will want to pick up and read.” Giving a child the choice to pick his or her own book can also add to the fun and excitement about a new book for the holidays.  Gift certificates to a local bookstore can spur children to choose a book that they are more likely to read.

If children are dreaming about high-tech gadgets this holiday season, families may want to consider an electronic book reader to fulfill gift expectations – and encourage reading.  If costs are an obstacle to gift-giving, taking a child to the local library over the holidays and getting him or her to sign up for a library card can be a more affordable strategy.  Baker adds, “It can give them independence and ownership to what they want to read, as well as introduce them to a world of books that’s available at their fingertips.”


Make reading fun for

each age group:


Choose books that:

Babies like you to talk with enthusiasm and facial expressions. Talk with your baby…all day long.
  • are small cloth or board books with single or rhyming words
  • have simple pictures such as faces or animals
One to two year oldswant to learn how to hold a book and turn the pages. Keep books within your child’s reach. 
  • have rhyming  interactive features such as textures, holes, or flaps for lifting
  • show pictures they can relate to and learn the words
Two to three year olds like you to ask questions and give them time to answer. Read and sing songs and rhymes with expression.
  • encourage your child to predict what may happen next
  •  that describe a series of events
Three to four year olds like when you pause to let them fill in words and phrases. You can help by modeling correct sounds and grammar.
  • longer books with more predictable and repetitive words
  • have topics they are interested in and can relate to
Four to five year olds like to tell stories and will memorize words of favourite books. You can help by pointing to words and sounds at the start of the words.
  •  are easy enough to allow your child to build confidence
  •  use  words such as first, then and last
Five to six year olds may like to hear you tell a story and then create their own version of the story. Help your child to choose a book to bring to every activity that may involve waiting, including shopping, appointments, etc
  • use more complex words such as before/after and  rough/smooth
  • discuss  numbers and quantity of objects, such as more/less and one/many
Six years and beyond like to read with you. Take turns reading alternate pages out loud. You can help by having a bedtime routine that involves reading together.
  • involve  topics the child is interested in
  • share books from school and make reading fun


For local residents who have questions about ways to encourage reading, or who want to find out more about their child’s speech and language skills, visit www.kidtalk.on.ca or call Public Health at 705-743-1000.


For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence
Communications Officer
(705) 743-1000, ext. 391